CHILDREN’S INSURANCE: Kids in One-Parent Homes Least Insured
The substantial increase in the number of uninsured children between 1977 and 1996 occured almost exclusively among children in single-parent homes, according to a new study from the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. Although the percentage of children in one-parent homes who had private insurance increased across the 19-year period, they were still much less likely to have private insurance and more likely to be uninsured than children in two-parent homes. Researchers analyzed national AHCPR surveys conducted in 1997, 1987 and 1996 and found that children with a single parent who never married were far more likely to be publicly insured in 1987 and 1996 than those whose parents had been married at some point. In addition, in 1996, more than 20% of children whose single parent previously had been married received private coverage from a policyholder who did not live with them, up from 5% in 1987. Overall, the percentage of children covered by private insurance declined, and the percentage of children from two-parent families who received public assistance doubled. The "Children's Health Insurance Coverage and Family Structure, 1977-1996," is published in the March issue of Medical Care and Review. (AHCPR release, 3/3).
Non-Custodial Parents' Health Insurance
HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and Labor Secretary Alexis Harmon announced Wednesday the formation of a Medical Child Support Working Group to develop guidelines to improve compliance with medical support obligations for children. Child support enforcement agencies may enforce medical support orders, which provide for children's health insurance, and "may require non- custodial parents to include their children under [their] health insurance coverage." In addition, the group will look at ways to ensure that non-custodial parents' share the costs of premiums, co-pays, deductible, or payments for service not covered under a child's existing health coverage. The group is expected to issue recommendations by January 2000, which will subsequently be forwarded to Congress with input on medical support legislation. As the medical support system develops, said Shalala, "we will coordinate with the Clinton administration's Medicaid outreach and Children's Health Insurance Program initiative to maximize coverage of the more than 10 million uninsured children in our country" (HHS release, 3/3).